Readers captivated by the understated silliness of the premise may find themselves imagining what their own neighborhoods...

PUMPKIN ISLAND

Geisert, known for his intricate etchings that often feature profusions of pigs, here turns to pumpkins, offering a meditation on the effects of one astonishingly fertile runaway pumpkin on a small Iowa town.

It all begins when a pumpkin is washed away from a farm to a small island in the middle of a river near a bridge. It breaks; its seeds sprout; vines soon stretch from the island to downtown via that bridge. In a sequence of expansive double-page spreads, Geisert depicts the overrunning of Main Street by the pumpkin’s progeny, the orange gourds improbably popping up everywhere. “People did fun things with the pumpkins. Sometimes, even dangerous things.” People throw pumpkins, do acrobatics and dance with them. And of course they build medieval siege weapons. Ultimately, after a gentle pumpkin chaos reigns for several page turns, the townspeople (all seemingly white) carve them into jack-o-lanterns and range them all up and down Main Street, their faces glowing long into the night. Geisert’s spreads offer readers detail upon whimsical detail, including a witch who walks calmly about and much rooftop tomfoolery. The text and art are occasionally out of sync, and, truthfully, there isn’t much plot—but there are many pumpkins to count.

Readers captivated by the understated silliness of the premise may find themselves imagining what their own neighborhoods might look like under similar circumstances . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59270-265-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Sweet—and savory.

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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